Coakley's failure to do right by Amiraults
makes her poor choice for Senate
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, January 7, 2010

Say what historians will about this shameful aspect of our history, at least Massachusetts didn't honor John Hathorne after he participated in the mass hysteria that sent 19 alleged witches to the gallows here in 1692.

Years later, Hathorne, a judge who acted more as prosecutor according to the transcripts of the witchcraft trials, came to be seen for what he was a disgrace to the concept of justice and a sad excuse for a human being. At least that's how he's portrayed in his great-grandson Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel "The House of the Seven Gables."

We less superstitious folk might understand how someone could get caught up in that 17th-century foolishness; or did Hathorne just use injustice to advance his own political fortunes? Speaking of Martha Coakley:

By the time she was able to influence the Fells Acre Day Care case, there was no excuse for ignorance. It was well understood that the children who accused Violet, Cheryl and Gerald Amirault of child abuse in 1984 had been brainwashed by social workers. Two respected judges had declared the trials a travesty and released Violet and her daughter; the parole board had unanimously recommended commutation of Gerald's sentence. Similar cases in other states had been overturned.

All that remained was for then-Gov. Jane Swift to agree to the commutation.

By then, anyone could have read the court transcripts, seen the taped interviews of the children, read the Pulitzer-winning columns and book by The Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz, met with Gerald's wide network of family and friends, and come to the conclusion that Gerald was innocent. I did all of these things after interviewing him in the Plymouth County House of Corrections, before jumping on the justice bandwagon.

So I was horrified when Swift refused to commute, forcing an innocent Gerald to spend two more years in jail 18 in all.

Recently, I learned that Swift had been influenced by Coakley, who, against all reason, still insists that the Amiraults were guilty. So mine is a nonpartisan contempt for both women.

However, Swift's action helped seal her political fate as she lost the Republican nomination in the next election cycle to Mitt Romney.

Coakley is reaching for even more undeserved political glory despite the evidence that she cares nothing for the truth and cannot admit the mistakes made by the Middlesex County district attorney's office, of which she took charge, succeeding the original Amirault persecutors, Scott Harshbarger and Tom Reilly.

The Republican candidate in Tuesday's U.S. Senate race, Scott Brown, has my vote, though I disagree with him on several things, not least of which is his statement that "Martha Coakley is a nice person." No, Scott, she is not.

Little-known fact: In 1997, Martha Coakley moved to Dorchester for a different special election, for the Dorchester state representative seat. She finished fourth, getting only 746 votes from the few people impressed by her electoral ambition.

This seems a good time to interview Gerald Amirault, a former Citizens for Limited Taxation staffer, again.

Barbara Anderson: Gerry, can I assume you'll be voting for Scott Brown on Jan. 19?

Gerald Amirault: Yes. I think he will make a good senator, but of course I also look forward to voting against Martha Coakley, who helped keep me in jail for two extra years.

B.A.: Tell us why you weren't released at the same time as your mother and sister.

G.A.: I had a different trial judge, so my case was on a different track from the beginning. I was just glad that my mother got out before she died of cancer, and that my sister was also free. But after our hopes were raised by the unanimous commutation vote of the Parole Board, the extra years were hard on my wife and children.

B.A.: I've gotten to know you all over the years, and am still surprised that you yourself have always seemed more surprised and disbelieving than bitter and angry about what happened to you.

G.A.: The disbelief was overwhelming. My mother ran a nice family business, no complaints for 20 years, then suddenly we were accused of incredible things secret rooms, clowns, animal sacrifice in a house where teachers and others were around all day, where no evidence was ever found.

B.A.: That's what first seemed strange to me: How did three members of a respected family suddenly become monsters, with no warning or previous accusations?

G.A.: It was so crazy we didn't know how to defend ourselves! But, anger and bitterness didn't help. I had no control over my circumstances, only over how I lived with them. I tried to remain positive, and be a good role model for my kids.

B.A.: They are great kids. And now you have grandchildren.

G.A.: Yes, I feel I have a good life now, with the same good family and friends who got me through the bad years. I enjoy my freedom; believe me, I appreciate every minute!

B.A.: Not to argue with great attitude, but it must be hard to see your persecutors Harshbarger, Reilly, Coakley winning elections and advancing politically over the years.

G.A.: I really hope when voters go to the polls they remember my mom, Violet, and the years of service she gave to children and families only to lose everything to this terrible injustice. Voters didn't choose Harshbarger or Reilly for governor; I can only hope they won't choose Martha Coakley to be my U.S senator.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.

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